In recent days, all eyes have turned to the Syrian refugee crisis in the wake of toddler Aylan Kurdi’s body washing up on Turkish coast. Although graphic, a photograph of Aylan’s body has been shared and printed thousands of times, making international impact as global citizens demand shelter for these fleeing refugees. While it is tragic that it took the death of this child to draw international attention to this crisis, the results have forced administrators to address the refugee crisis.
Videos of German citizens cheering and applauding arriving refugees have circled the web, but unfortunately, these sentiments are not shared across Europe. France has announced they will accept 24,000 migrants and Britain an even fewer 20,000. Even Germany, the country that has arguably done the most to address the crisis, must cap their refugee admittance at 500,000 migrants annually. These efforts hardly seem sufficient as in 2015 alone, 367,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean in hopes of reaching Europe’s safer shore.
Some countries have had an openly hostile response to the refugees flooding their shores. In Hungary, government officials are refusing to deny asylum to refugees under the argument that they are simply fleeing bad economic conditions and not violence. The Prime Minister is pushing for the completion of a 13-foot fence along the Hungarian-Serbian border and many nations have refused to acknowledge the refugees at all.
What does this mean for the U.S.? Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict four years ago, the United States has accepted only 1,500 refugees. The Obama administration has said it is “actively considering” more ways to help and an official White House petition has over 48,000 signatures from citizens urging the administration to allow refugees into the country. The administration adds that the U.S. has provided over $4 billion in humanitarian assistance since the Syrian crisis began, and over $1 billion in assistance this year, making the U.S. “the single largest donor to the Syrian crisis.” We eagerly await more information from the administration and hope that this crisis can be addresses swiftly and safely.